Bucky Pizzarelli

John Paul “Bucky” Pizzarelli was an American jazz guitarist. He lived from January 9, 1926 to April 1, 2020. He was the father to jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli, and double bassist Martin Pizzarelli. He was a staffman at NBC (1971), and ABC (1952) with Bobby Rosengarden. He collaborated with Benny Goodman and Les Paul as well as Stephane Grappelli and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Pizzarelli cited Django Reinhardt and Freddie Green as his influences. Pizzarelli was born in Paterson, New Jersey, on January 9, 1926. At a young age, he learned to play the banjo and guitar. Bobby and Pete Domenick were his uncles and professional musicians. Sometimes extended families would gather at their homes to jam with their guitars. Pizzarelli mentioned Joe Mooney as an inspiration, a blind accordion player who was part of a quartet that also included Bobby Domenick, Pizzarelli’s uncle. Pizzarelli played the guitar in a small group that performed classical music during high school. Pizzarelli started his professional career in 1944 at the age of 17, when he joined Vaughn Monroe’s dance band. Pizzarelli was hired by NBC in 1952 to play with Skitch Henderson as a staff musician. He joined The Tonight Show Band, which was broadcast on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1964. He performed on The Tonight Show with guest bands and musicians. This included playing with Tiny Tim on the day Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki. Pizzarelli performed with The Three Suns’ pop music trio from 1956 to 1957 under the stage name Johnny Buck. From 1956 to 1957, he toured with Benny Goodman and performed until Goodman’s passing in 1986. He formed a duo with George Barnes, guitarist, and recorded two albums. One of them was a live performance at The Town Hall in New York City in August 1971. He began recording in the 1970s as a leader and issued many tributes to the musicians of the 1930s. He performed at the White House with Benny Goodman[5] and performed for Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, First Lady Pat Nixon. The 1985 Rutgers University Nicholas Music Center concert was called “Jersey Jazz Guitars”. The ticket included Pizzarelli, Les Paul and Tal Farlow as well as John Pizzarelli, Pizzarelli’s father. As part of the three-part New Jersey Summerfare Series, the concert was broadcast on New Jersey’s public radio station. Pizzarelli had previously performed with Les Paul, as they were friends and neighbors. The program aired for an hour on August 1985. John, his son, added his vocals to two of the selections. After a stroke in 2016, he continued to play until his 90s, making many appearances. He officially retired in 2018, after one last appearance with Michael Feinstein. On April 1, 2020, he died from COVID-19 in Saddle River (New Jersey). In recent years, he had suffered from several serious health issues. John, his son, is a well-known jazz guitarist. Martin, his son, is a professional bassist and has recorded with both his father as well as his brother. Mary, his daughter, is a classical guitarist and appeared on Green Guitar Blues’ third album as a lead singer. Pizzarelli was also featured on three albums by Jessica Molaskey, his daughter-in law (John’s wife). Pizzarelli was born with an archtop Gibson guitar, which was a very expensive instrument in those days. He used a Benedetto-Bucketto Signature seven-string guitar by Robert Benedetto. Robert Benedetto also makes guitars that are made for Howard Alden or Frank Vignola. George Van Eps taught him how to play the seven string. Pizzarelli used the extra string of his guitar to play a bass line in performances. Pizzarelli also used a seven-string American archtop guitar, made by Dale Unger. He also makes custom guitars to fit the needs of Ed Laub, Pizzarelli’s partner. From Wikipedia

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